From tourists to Peace Corps volunteers
We always like to bring you interesting news about our incredibly diverse alumni community and the amazing things they do in their personal and professional lives. This particular story is no exception, brilliantly demonstrating how experiences can transform our lives in unexpected and wonderful ways.
Dylan Thompson (MSc Business and Management 2017) currently lives in Morocco with his wife Jacqueline. Both share a passion for empowering young people and teaching them valuable life skills and are living their dream working as Peace Corps volunteers in the Youth Development sector. But none of this would have happened had it not been for a visit to Morocco two years ago organised by Citylife, a company that plans and organises activities, event and trips for international students at Nottingham.
The trip proved inspirational for Dylan and Jacqueline visiting historic cities such as Marrakech, Essaouira, Ouarzazate, Fes, Rabat, Casablanca, and UNESCO World Heritage Site Ait-Ben-Haddou which has gained fame as a location for many Hollywood movies and more recently for global TV sensation Game of Thrones. They also rode camels in the Sahara desert and slept in traditional Amazigh-style tents.
The idea to join the Peace Corps had yet to present itself but both were at turning points in their careers and months of unsuccessful job applications and interviews following the completion of his master’s degree convinced Dylan to think more laterally about his future.
Dylan explained: “I honestly could not tell you how or why I got to the Peace Corps website. Up until that point, we only knew one volunteer and had not heard much about the organization but I do remember the exact moment I saw the Youth Development position in Morocco and thought ‘wow, what are the chances that the country that my wife and I fell in love with has a position that we are extremely qualified for?’
“I truly believe that my experience living in Nottingham and studying at a global campus gave me an advantage in my application and prepared me for service in the Peace Corps.”
In the meantime, Dylan received and took up a job offer for a marketing agency based in California but knew that his passions were taking him in a different direction and left six months later to pursue this unique opportunity in Morocco.
“Even though our decision to apply came about quickly, a lot of research and thought went into it. We thought the odds were against us given the date of our application, the competitiveness of the country, applying as a couple, and our decision to apply for Morocco and Morocco alone.
The selection process for the Peace Corps is every bit as competitive as for a paid role with a commercial or not-for-profit organisation and intensified further by the popularity of Morocco as a country of choice for many volunteers. However - undeterred - Dylan and Jacqueline applied as a couple, although they still had to qualify separately in the first instance.
“However, we knew that whatever the outcome was, it was meant to be. If not now, when else would we have this opportunity? We honestly believe this is what we are supposed to be doing at this moment in our lives.
“We are no longer tourists, but volunteers living and working in Morocco. We are doing our best to integrate within our community, learn the language, and immerse ourselves in the culture. In the end, maybe we will have a lasting and meaningful impact here, but until then, we are right where we are supposed to be.”
Dylan hopes that his story will inspire other Nottingham students and alumni who may have considered international volunteering and advises them to ‘give it a shot’.
Contact Dyan for advice about serving as an international volunteer via Instagram or e-mail
Read Dylan's blog
Posted on Thursday 18th April 2019